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Gift Creates Endowed Professorship, Camp Program

An Emporia State alum who spent his career working on NASA space projects is helping future generations experience the same types of programs and engaged professors who inspired him to reach for the stars.

Brian (B.S. Physical Science 1976) and Jill Tichenor recently gave to the ESU Foundation to support two projects — the James Calvert Endowed Professorship in Physical Sciences and the Physical Sciences Summer Camp Program. The couple’s gift was celebrated with a reception at the Sauder Alumni Center on Tuesday, Dec. 4.

James Calvert taught physics at Emporia State for 31 years, retiring in May 1998. His course load included both general education courses and upper level physics classes.

As an advisor, Calvert guided Tichenor to take a wide range of engineering courses in conjunction with a major in physics. Tichenor credits that guidance and the education he received at ESU, beginning with the science summer camp he attended while in high school, as the starting point of his career in materials engineering.

Tichenor’s career led him to a myriad of exciting opportunities and challenges, all the way to working on numerous projects at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration including the Space Shuttle, the Space Station and the Orion spacecraft. 

Said Dr. R. Brent Thomas, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, “These endowed funds will help us to recruit and retain top-notch professors and inspire the next generation of scientists through the summer camps. The vision of Emporia State University is to change lives for the common good, and private donations through endowed funds are critically important to fulfill that vision.

“The Tichenors’ generosity will definitely help the Department of Physical Sciences to continue to change lives for the common good,” Thomas concluded.